Fear of the Short

1. It’s really bizarre when you cough so hard you lose your voice.

2. The good thing is, I’m a writer and I can write whatever I want to say and it comes out better than when I say it. It’s very convenient for times you lose your voice. Unfortunately, it won’t do me much good at work tomorrow…

Anyway, today (before I coughed out my voice), I met up with Katie, my old college roommate, who has come to New York this weekend to take some advanced Lindy Hop classes–swing dancing–and naturally, we reminisced a little about college.

And I realized that my basic fear of writing short stories doesn’t necessarily stem from the fact that I prefer to write longer stories…i.e., books. I thought that because I tend toward the verbose, that that’s why I don’t like writing short stories–getting a beginning, middle, end, a plot, and decent characters in under, say, ten thousand words? ‘Tis a challenge!

Pearl is just under thirty thousand words, for instance.

In college, as I’ve mentioned before, I developed Workshop-itis (definition: the dislike and fear of having your work workshopped). It’s really strange now because while I have no problems with my writing group critiquing my work when I request some help or a second or third pair of eyes and I don’t mind the idea of strangers reading my novella, the idea of having to submit a short story to a callow and grim class of twelve other writers in a classroom setting terrifies me.

Though, I have to say, if I were in that situation now, I would actually have quite a bit to say. I’ve learned a lot about writing since college.

But my Workshop-itis is tied into my squeamishness about writing short stories because that’s all we did in fiction writing. I never thought I was particularly good at writing those stories for a variety of reasons.

How appropriate that the short story I’m writing has to do with turning points, then, huh? Because I feel like if I can really get this short story to come together and work, then I can write more of them–and find places to submit them to.

So, Workshop-itis and college hang-ups…it’s time to get out of my way.

4 thoughts on “Fear of the Short

  1. Tis very true how often writing classes can cramp us up. I learned a lot, but I also had some damage to undo. Ha. I wish I liked writing shorts. I like reading them. I can do something that's say like 5000, if I have to, and if it's okay to be ridiculous, but anything over that and the novelist comes out.

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  2. I remember being afraid to write in writing class in school. I'd write poetry in my free time, but when it came time to write a paper for class, I just froze up. I didn't like knowing someone would be going through it with a red pen!

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